We are a married couple who adopted our little Russky, Nikita {aka Nicky, Nicky noodle, little man, Nikoli, the Nickster, crazy dude, goofball, puppy love, etc...you get the picture!} from St Petersburg, Russia four years ago. Join us as we stumble through the joys and perils of parenthood, while our son teaches us a few things along the road...



9.30.2008

Yuck!

Well - we got Nicky's test results back from the doctor's office. We had submitted 3 stool samples (which I was oh so lucky to scoop out of diapers!) and they took several vials of blood. The nurse called and said that all the blood work looked good (there's still a few vaccines he'll need to have) - whew - no HIV, Hep B or C, or any other scary diseases! However, she said he has a parasite in his belly! EW Yuck! The type Nicky has is called "Dientamoeba Fragilis" (http://www.emedicine.com/ped/topic563.htm). It basically causes gas & diarrhea...you know, the fun stuff. You, dear reader, may recall my previous writings about (what I lovingly call) "Peter Belly" and "Mockba Belly" (the former being the more daunting of the 2 conditions). Both are caused from drinking poorly distilled drinking water, or eating foods that were prepared with such water. "Peter" Belly's onset is much quicker than that of "Mockba's", but both like to hang on with a vengeance. I'm still feeling the effects from our visit to Mother Russia, and now after getting Nicky's test result and doing some reading, I'm thinking I might go and get tested. The only drawback...scooping you know what!!!

I will spare everyone the visual images that could oh so very well accompany this post; trust me - it's not pretty! Luckily, the parasite is pretty non-invasive and all that's needed is a $65 compound administered 3x/day...good thing Nicky enjoys taking medicines! He knows exactly what to do whether we come at him with a dropper or a small cup filled with the liquid...makes one wonder what kinds of things they gave him while in the orphanage.

That's all for now! Kris & I have some Fall TV to catch up on (Nicky's sound asleep...whew...we got a sleeper!)

9.29.2008

psst...it's me - sabaka blitzer. i gotta type fast, cuz my mom doesn't know i'm on her computer. of course, she doesn't think i know how to use it - she & dad think sabaka bailey's the brains in this operation - ha! anyway - that kid they call nicky told you the best time of his day in an earlier post, so i thought i'd do the same. i guess bailey & me are getting used to having that little 2-legged sibling around. he likes to grab our snoots and shake our heads and he chases us around poking us, takes all our attention that we used to get and other stuff that we really don't like. we have tried snapping at him, but he laughs & comes right back for more! what's up with that?! there is an upside to all that unnecessary roughness...
yup! we get scraps! we haven't gotten people food since the doctors told mom that i have a thyroid issue & should only give me my dog food and limit my treat intake! it's like heaven - i have to sit outside when that nicky is eating his food, (otherwise he lets me lick his fingers and won't eat cuz he's too busy playing with me) but as soon as he's done...game on!
gotta go...mom's coming! spotted wonder sabaka out...

9.28.2008

My Week

hi everybody! it's me nicky!

i thought i'd write to fill you all in on my week & tell you about all the fun stuff i did! i got to paint with this fun paint that at first looks like there's no color, but then like magic the color appears on the paper - super cool! the best part about it is that it doesn't get my hands dirty - i really hate it when i get stuff all over me. i like to be clean...probably why i like that bath time so much!

what else did i do? oh yeah - i got to go see my daddy at his other work. momma says she works there too, but when would she have time? she's always here playing with me! silly momma! we had lunch with my daddy and my momma's friends scott & julie. it was fun to eat somewhere other than our kitchen for a change.

i also went to meet my aunt sharon and uncle stu! they are some fun people! they gave me this cool bike i like to ride in front of my house.
i kept hearing a sabaka - i mean doggy - barking, but i could never find it. i think it was my silly uncle stu playing tricks on me. i got to play with this chicken thing that would ring after a few minutes - now i'm all about the one my momma has that's like it. they had some other fun toys there too, so i really had a good time. we had dinner there and i even got to eat some yummy thing called a brownie...chocolate is good stuff!
yesterday me, my momma and my daddy went really far away to see some of momma & daddy's friends at their house. it took way too long (one whole hour) for my liking and i cried some cuz i just wanted out of that car seat thing! but - when we got there, it was all fun and games. i got to play with cole - he's just my size - and he has a pretty older sister named shaylee - it was so much fun! (momma forgot her thing that makes pictures, so i'll have to put them on here later.) we had dinner there and then just as i was playing again, we had to get back in the car to drive the long way home. i was not happy about that part. momma & daddy made it fun, thou, by making all kinds of silly animal sounds and then momma sang a song just saying "nyet" a bunch of times! she's funny!

i also learned that ranch dressing (aka the nectar of the gods) makes a great cocktail...
and that everything tastes better with ketchup on it! (momma says i'm just like my uncle brent! he must be a cool guy too!)
i also found the perfect spot for me to play with my toys...
if you ask me, it was a pretty fun week! i can't wait to see what the next one brings!
smell ya later gators! :) nicky j.

9.24.2008

Reminders of Nicky's Former Home

I was going thru my camera and realized I had yet to download the few videos we took while in St Petersburg. The first was taken the day we visited him after receiving the official "ok" to adopt him from the court. As you will see, he is so not happy about us being there. The frown on his face is something I have almost forgotten. In such a short amount of time, Nicky's frown has been permanently turned upside down and has been replaced by a beautiful, full-lipped smile!

This video was just before we were leaving after visiting him at the orphanage. We had spent some time with him one-on-one, but he was more interested in being part of his "gruppa" than being with the 2 crazy Americans people kept calling "mama" & "papa"! If you turn up your volume, you can hear Nicky saying "paka" - "bye" - he said this all on his own...he really wanted us to leave!

video

This is Nicky & Kris 2 days after leaving the orphanage. We're in our friends P&C's living room in Peter. Since we had never heard Nicky laugh, we thought he was crying at first!

video

It's amazing the changes in him after only a few days with us. We loved being in our little "bubble" there in Peter - just the three of us hanging out all the time. Kris & I learning how to be parents; Nicky learning how to trust us. We showed Nicky the videos (there's actually a 3rd I couldn't get to upload) the other day. Our questions about whether or not he remembered the orphanage were answered. He said a few things (in Russian), but we weren't sure what he said; he definitely knew it was him - our son is so vain!

I can't wait to show these to him as he gets older - I wonder what he'll think then? I hope you enjoyed viewing them!

9.22.2008

my favorite time of day...

well, who knew?! my fave time of day is bath time!!! i know, i know...i used to be afraid of it. but - that was soo last month! i'm all about it now! i can't wait until after dinner time, cuz i know that's when the party gets started. my momma goes up to my room to get my towel & i see that wonderful stripey-soft fabulousness & my little fred flintstones can't get me into the bathroom fast enough! (btw - i have really wide feet, so daddy calls them fred flintstones. frankly, i don't get it, but he sure gets a kick out of it, so whatever!) anyway - my momma and daddy got me all these super fun toys to play with in the tub. my favorite is the lobster that winds up & swims around...or is it the fish that fills up with water & squirts? i can't decide - but no matter - being in that water & playing is like the best thing ever! my momma even gave me these crayon things to play with in the tub today (i'm supposed to say thank you to momma's friend wendy for those). they were so cool - i sure hope she lets me have them again tomorrow! anywho - i just thought i'd let you peeps know that bath time is something you should all totally try. i mean - do people know about this wonderful thing?
smell ya later gators! :) nicky j.

9.19.2008

Trip to the Fire Station

Kris works 24 hour shifts (7am-7am) when he works at the fire station, so Kris' mom (Granny)and I thought it would be fun to take Nicky to see daddy at work. The day before, we did some fire engine puzzles, watched a video about fire trucks & such, and played with Nicky's various fire engines, trucks and ambulances. We got to the fire station around 10:15am and Nicky got so excited when daddy walked out of the building to greet us. Nicky was equally excited to see the many big 18-wheelers passing in front of the fire station (the station is in a warehouse district and there is a rail yard at the end of the street). He's all about "big trucks"! We took Nicky inside and met all of daddy's co-workers (Brad, Brian, Woody, Captain Brown, & Rob) then proceeded to the garage. Nicky's eyes lit up the second we walked in! He was in heaven...sort of. He immediately liked looking at the fire engine, ambulance and bomb truck & trailer, however, touching them or getting close to them was a totally different story! Kris picked Nicky up and got inside the fire engine, and that seemed to go over well.

While Nicky was walking around, Kris turned on the lights and Nicky got really excited! He's obsessed with lights of any kind, especially when he gets to turn them off & on over and over! As Nicky was checking out the lights, Kris turned on the siren a bit and Nicky about jumped out of his shorts! The look on his face was priceless! Then we walked around and tried to get Nicky to try on Kris' bunker gear (the garb for fighting fires)...we got a big "nyet" to that, although, we did get him to try on helmet.
Captain Brown and Brian then asked us if we wanted to go for a ride...Nicky might have said "nyet", but momma & Granny were excited about the prospect! We all climbed on board and Kris put the headset on Nicky, while Captain Brown talked into his...that put a smile on Nicky's face. Hmmm...what did he whisper to my child I wonder?!

As we drove around, Nicky was still fascinated by all the "big trucks" that drove by us. Hello - we're riding in a fire engine - I think that's way more cool than the semis driving around! Oh well - some day he'll get it! After our ride, we got a tour of the station and hung out for a bit before having to leave to come home. Nicky was not happy about that...by then he decided he was "one of the guys" and wanted to hang out! Not to mention, the guys were fixing lunch, and that smell was quite enticing (if you like meat, that is!). We might have a future fireman on our hands!

9.18.2008

My Day at the Dallas Zoo

hi - it's me nicky j!

so my momma, daddy, granny and me all went to the dallas zoo together. i had no clue what the heck a zoo was, but hey - i got to ride in the "machina", so all was good in my world! well, we got to this zoo place and there was almost no one in the joint...we practically had it all to ourselves. we looked at some lemur things - i remember seeing them on that movie madagascar my momma made me watch - then we moved on to look at some big pink birds that stood on one leg. i tell you what - that was impressive - i have trouble on both legs some days! from there we went to the part called the "children's zoo"...i was totally in my element! there was a ton of stuff to do and see and i even decided that sitting in my stroller was way overrated...i was all about running around and lookin at stuff. first we looked at some little donkeys...they were ok - my momma even pet them, but their teeth were way too big for my liking. then we went to see some noisy roosters - their songs were for sure my taste...i love me some "musica"!

i turned my head cuz i heard some quacking noise, and there were the baby duckies! i sure like me some duckies! my totally favorite book right now is 10 rubber ducks.
anyway - i walked on this wooden bridge thing all by myself...apparently that makes me a "big boy" or something...adults - so easy to please! then i saw that some other kid was getting to feed the fuzzy sheep things, so i was so going back to that cage for sure!then daddy put me on this wooden horse thing - it just sat there, like "so, does this do anything?" and then daddy shook it up & i was like "oh yeah - i can go 8 seconds!"after that, we walked over to this big round bowl thing and looked at some really hugacious fish...that was cool.but - i have to say, the way coolest thing ever was that little pony i got to ride! i l-o-v-e loved it! i'll admit - i was a little scared to ride it, but that was like only for one second and then i was so over it! i rode that pony all by myself (well, there were 2 ladies there, but that was all for show - we didn't want momma & daddy to be scared!). (once again, i'm a "big boy"...get a new phrase, folks!)
then my momma, me & my granny went into this place called the "discovery house". they had all kinds of fun stuff to do in there and there were a few glass box things that had lizards and stuff in them. my momma got kinda scared when the dude that worked there said "yeah, he's in there. he's just hiding behind the paper." momma walked real fast to go outside to daddy when that dude said "hold on - i'll get "it" out for you to see!" i was like "wait! i wanna see "it"!" well, i did get to see "it"; daddy took me back in. "it" was what the guy called a snake! it was so cool - i really liked petting it - even my daddy & granny did some petting of the cool thing! momma doesn't know what she's missing (notice there isn't even a picture of this milestone! hello momma - i just pet a snake!)

from there we went to see some monkeys - they sure can swing...hmmm - swing...makes me think of my swing in my yard...
where was i? oh yeah - then we went in search of these things my daddy calls "tigers" - they were pretty lame - couldn't even show themselves - nowhere to be found so we moved on. we saw these fun things my momma liked called "otters". i'll admit - they sure can swim! reminds me of myself during bath time!
after that, we went to see an elephant - only saw it's booty thou...it was really big! then we looked at some birds - by the way - my daddy is not a big fan of birds at all, but he did snap a pic of this crazy looking guy! then momma said it was getting late, and i had to agree - my belly was starting to growl - so we headed back to the exit. i did, however, get to ride the carousel thing before we left, and i got to sit on a cheetah! i was all about that! i so couldn't believe it when momma & daddy told me it was time to go! seriously? i'm digging this dudes! i don't need to eat...well...on second thought - i do like me some food! all in all, it was a fun day! we went to lunch and then daddy went to work and i had some pupka to take care of, so momma, me & granny had to head home fast! i sure can't wait to go to that zoo place again! momma says there are a bunch more animals we didn't get to see!

smell ya later, gators! :) nicky j.

Me & My Granny

hi - it's me nicky! i sure have had a busy week! it all seemed to go as it usually does. me and momma hang out at home, walk to the park, play, read books, nap, eat (my favorite!), take baths and play with the sabakas...i mean dogs! well, i got a surprise on wednesday when my daddy brought home my granny to me! i didn't really know what a granny was, but then momma and daddy told me it was a babushka and then i knew. a granny was a fun lady that loves me and brings me fun stuff! my granny read me books, played puzzles with me, played pat-a-cake with my feet and went to some cool places with me (the park, zoo and fire station)! my papa (which they told me is a dedushka) couldn't come with her this visit, but i'll get to see him real soon - he sounds like a fun guy too! i sure can't wait to see them both!

smell ya later gators! :) nicky j.

War Wounds

hi...it's me nicky! yesterday my momma & daddy took me to this place called quest. all that pupka of mine my momma put into those tiny bottles went with us too, and momma gave it to the lady there! kinda yucky - i don't know what they would want with it, when my momma wants me to put that stuff into the potty! anyway, they took me into a room where they stuck a needle into my arm! now, i don't know what i did to deserve that, but it was so not the way i wanted to start my day! momma turned her head away, so i figured something serious was about to go down. my daddy sat with me at least, so i guess it coulda been worse. the lady told momma they might not "get enough" this time & would have to come back. "enough" of what i ask you?! what are these people taking of mine? one lady talked to me & kept telling me i was a big boy - i was like - um, yeah - i'm in the 50th percentile! the other lady stuck that sharp thing into me & this red stuff started to come out...ouch! i only cried a minute, cuz i'm so not a wimp! then i thought it was all over with, and they came at me in the other arm! hello - i think that red stuff belongs to me & it must be something i should have! well that time i sure showed them, i didn't cry at all. momma, daddy & those two ladies kept cheering for me like they do when i go on that potty thing...big people are so weird sometimes! when we were done i got some cool band-aid things and momma & me came home for a snack & daddy went to that work place. the other lady said i prolly wouldn't have to go back for more...whew! here's a picture of me showing off my "war wounds"...i'm such a tuff guy!
smell ya later, gators! :) nicky j.

9.16.2008

Another Anniversary to Note...

Yesterday marked the one month anniversary of me & Kris' court date & official day of becoming parents! Yeah! It's been a crazy month, to say the least. It's amazing that the child that wanted absolutely nothing to do with us a month ago, is today all over us! I can't walk anywhere around the house without my little shadow. It was one thing with the dogs, but oy vey! Me going potty unattended? Forget about it! Nicky is full of hugs and kisses for us (and the dogs!) and is so inquisitive. He's picking up a lot more English; his favorite phrase is "all done"...all done on the potty; all done with food & drink; all done with whatever task he's doing; you name it! He repeats a lot of what we say, and wants to know what everything is that he sees.

Things Nicky likes...
Music & dancing, toys that make noise, his swing, playing with the dogs, following momma around & oh boy, does this kid like "machinas" (cars/trucks/etc)!

Foods I'm surprised that a 2 year old eats...
Brussel sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, peas, salad, zucchini & yellow squash. (he really IS my son!) He does enjoy meat of all types, so Kris is happy about that.

A few boxes arrived via UPS today from Toys-R-Us and this was Nicky's reaction to them...
Who is this kid?! :) Most kids would've torn thru the boxes to find all the fun stuff they contained. Not Nicky - he went for the fun puppy flashlight and was satisfied! Thank you Uncle Brent, Aunt Caroline, Brenden & Emily for all the fun stuff! Kris will be most happy about the "grow to pro" golf set! :)

Our 3rd Anniversary!

Three years ago today, Kris and I were married in Southlake, TX. It's hard to believe it's only been 3 years. Not that it's been a long three years, but we've accomplished so much together in such a short time! We've purchased (and remodeled) a new house; we've traveled a bunch; and the biggest accomplishment is, of course, adopting Nicky!

Kris had to work today, so it was just me & Nicky celebrating. We started the day off right with momma scooping the final specimen for the lab work...such fun! Thank goodness that was the last one. Nicky thinks it's great to watch momma playing scientist...momma thinks it's just gross! Today's was especially gross...and to top it off, it was escaping the diaper & ended up on the floor. Nicky, like his momma, does not like things to be where they don't belong, and insisted on momma cleaning it up before proceeding with the cleaning of himself. Needless to say, wipes weren't cutting it, so Nicky received a morning shower!

I decided today would be the day that we would only wear underwear & no pull-ups, since we didn't have plans to leave the house (other than a walk to the park). Well, we've been through 3 sets of clothes and it's only 5:07pm! We've been taking him about once an hour while he was wearing pull-ups, and most days we would make it thru a full day with only one. So today, I set the timer to go off every 45 or so minutes to remind us it was time to potty. Every time we went into the bathroom, he went, however, that didn't stop him from dousing the couch, his booster seat and the kitchen floor! Oh well, tomorrow's another day!

9.15.2008

First "pupka" on the potty!

Pupka, said "poopka" is exactly what it sounds like! And, it's so exciting because until now, it's always been in a diaper, for me & Kris' pleasure first thing in the morning! Ew yuck! :p Not only was it the first one on the potty, but it was also the first "solid" one, which means whatever he's had that's been messing with his system all these years (I suspect Giardia), has started to work it's way through his little body! Tomorrow will be the last "scooping"momma will have to do, thank goodness. We'll take all 3 collections to the lab the following day, and Nicky will also have some blood taken. They will analyze the blood work to determine the levels of the immunizations present in his body. If the doctor finds they aren't up to par, we will have those in question repeated. Keep your fingers crossed there aren't any other surprises found in the lab work!

9.13.2008

Nicky & the Sabakas (dogs)

Kris and I each had a dog when we first got together. Kris had Blitzer (a medium-large size black & white spotted lab mix) and I had Bailey (a small-medium yellow terrier mix). For about 8 years now, we have considered them our children. We were nervous that Nicky might not take too kindly to his new "siblings". The dogs that Nicky has seen during his lifetime have been mangy packs of street dogs that used his orphanage playground as their personal potty...yuk! Much to our chagrin, the first night we brought Nicky home to Texas, he wanted absolutely nothing to do with Blitzer & Bailey. In fact, he screamed at the top of his lungs if they came near him. It was late in the evening, and we had been traveling all day (about 24-ish hours including the time change between Plano & Moscow), so we figured we would put the dogs outside while Nicky was up and about in the house and we'd try again the next day.

Well, the next day wasn't much better. He did like running to the window to see what Blitzer & Bailey were up to in the backyard, however, he would spit at them and shout something in Russian! (probably nothing nice, either!) Our poor four-legged kids were shunned to the either the backyard or our office. We figured the only thing we could do was to keep trying. We would go outside to "visit" the dogs, making sure Nicky was watching, and would give them lots of love. We would instruct Nicky to "be sweet" and would carry him by the dogs if they happened to come inside and he was around. Eventually he made friends with our next door neighbor's dog, Patches. Patches, bless his heart, is about 17 years old and is smaller and doesn't move around much.
We've been home just over a week now, and after much prodding and coaching, I am happy to announce that Nicky has gotten over his fear of Blitzer & Bailey! He follows Blitzer around and loves on him frequently. He's a big fan of Blitzer "kissing" his hands during dinner time...Blitzer is a big fan of this too! He's getting lots of extra treats these days! We are still working on the "be gentle" part; he likes to grab Blitzer's snout tightly and kinda shake it, and pats him pretty hard (in place of petting him). Problem now is, the dogs are pretty much "over" Nicky! After a full day of Nicky following Blitzer around and tugging on him, Blitzer squeezed between my legs to hide from Nicky between me and the washing machine! Needless to say, we still have some work ahead of us, but at least everyone is getting along enough for now!

9.11.2008

First Trip to Walmart!

Well - not my favorite place to be in the world, but we needed a few provisions, so the trip was inevitable. We climbed in the car & I actually figured out the booster seat and was able to get Nicky buckled in without too much difficulty! We pulled into the parking lot and I was thankful that it was pretty empty, that would make the trip much more smooth. The greeter pulled a cart out for me and I picked Nicky up and put him in the seat. He seemed ok at first, but then started to fuss a bit and was reaching for me to pick him up. I just gave him hugs and we walked with me hunched over hugging him for a bit and then he was fine! We were there for just under an hour and he was awesome! He was all smiles & chatter (Russian, of course, so not sure what he was saying!) and was even singing a little song for me (once again, in Russian!). Here's a picture I snapped of him in the card aisle.

All in all, it was a good trip! He is much more comfortable with us taking his picture now. At first he would barely look at us, now he actually smiles!

9.10.2008

September 9, 2008 - 1st US Doctor Visit

We took Nicky to see Dr Eckel in Denton - he's an international adoption specialist. We all got loaded up in Kris' Pathfinder, with Nicky secure in his seat in the back. He was a little restless at first; this is only his third time being in his seat afterall. I gave him some Cheerios (it was snack time) and all was good...we were on our way. Nicky's seat gives him a great position for viewing other "machinas" (cars), so that kept him busy most of the 35-ish minute ride. It started raining pretty hard half way through our trip, so Kris turned on the windshield wipers. You woulda thought he had performed some kind of miracle! Nicky got so excited & yelled "whoa". It dawned on us...he's never seen them before. Every time they went across the windshield, he got excited!

We got to the Dr's office and ran in, since we forgot our umbrella - seems like a theme for us! We only had to wait a few minutes before we were taken to the room & had to strip our child. Both Kris & I held our breath, waiting for the screams that would follow. I guess Nicky was too mesmerized by the cute Nurse to worry about having his clothes taken off, because he barely made a fuss!

After many questions and touching and prodding of the child, Dr Eckel pronounced Nicky to be in overall good health! He said we would want to make sure he gets enough protein for his growing muscles - guess momma should follow the same advice. He also commented that Nicky seems to be pretty well adjusted and if we were to work with him, he should have no problems catching up developmentally and with his speech!

As we left the nurses came in with 7 vials full of liquid. We received instructions on filling them...with poo! :( And guess who gets to perform this task? Yup - momma! EWWWWW! I guess that's my retribution for making Kris take care of the explosion on the plane!

September 9, 2008 - Good to Be Home!

We're all doing pretty well, considering we have a 2 yr old with a body that refuses to convert to the CMT time zone! The first night home, after touring the house & getting freaked out by our dogs, we went to bed (reluctantly) around 9:30pm. He slept until 5:30am, however, woke up once in between. We ended up getting up pretty early and he decided that the oatmeal that he ate with enthusiasm before, was to be pushed away. We played and stuck around the house all day Friday. We tried to walk with him to the park in our neighborhood (with the stroller as well), only he wanted me to carry him started to scream at the top of his lungs when we tried to get him into the stroller! I guess since we carried him pretty much everywhere in Peter & Moscow, he decided that that would be his favorite mode of transportation! As we neared the park, he settled a bit - insisted on holding my hand the whole time he was in the stroller - and we thought, perfect! Let's play! Wrong answer, parents! He snubbed the playground with gusto and cried if we tried to make him walk...so we gave up and went back to the house. We were able to entice him to our bath tub for a bath with tons of toys and his favorite, a fish that fills up with water, then squirts it out. Didn't go too badly...only cried when we took off his clothes.

Friday night, Nicky woke up around 2am & decided that sleeping was overrated. We went in to soothe him, to no avail, then decided to try the Ferber method (where you let them cry longer and longer in between times you go in to comfort them). He was to have none of that! He just cried louder & longer, only to stop immediately when we walked into the room! Oy...welcome to 2! We zombied our way thru Saturday; Kris worked at the office for a half day, while I was on mommy entertainment patrol...thank goodness my parents were here to help! Nicky met several of our neighbors and decided that he much liked the swing we got as a shower gift that my dad rigged in our tree in the front yard. He was full of love and hugs & kisses for me (up until then, he hadn't actually kissed either of us!), which made the sleep deprivation all worth it!
He actually slept thru the night on Saturday - awoke at 7am, so we all felt much more rested! Sunday was just another day around the house. Nicky watched some football with his Pop and Daddy...go Cowboys! He finally ate some and didn't fuss too much with the bath. My mom made traditional Russian Beef Stroganoff in honor of our little Russky! He actually enjoyed it, and finally ate a bunch. The bath went really well, however, bed time was not what he wanted to do, even thou he could barely keep his eyes open.

Nicky continues to amaze us with everything he does. He has really come out of his shell, for only being with us for 10 days! Who woulda thought that the child we saw a month ago that would barely look us in the eye would be talking non-stop and loving on us as much as he could at this point?! He is already repeating tons of words in English, and definitely understands a lot of what we say & tell him. He's definitely not as developmentally delayed as they told us; he just needed the one-on-one attention! We found out last night after reading our adoption paperwork & the court decree that the baby home he was living in was one for children that had severe cerebral issues and were "mentally challenged", to sum it up. All because he had had one minor seizure when he was 7 mos old, due to being malnourished and abandoned by his mother! We truly did rescue him from a life that would not have amounted to much. Thankfully, he is getting more used to being around the dogs...that would kill me...they're my babies too! :) And best of all, he's ours! His smile melts my heart and we are so thankful that he was brought to our lives!

9.04.2008

September 4, 2008 - Nicky Becomes a US Citizen!!!

We woke up at 3am MOCKBA (Moscow) time and left for the airport at 4:15am. We waited until we were all ready to go before waking Nicky. We met our coordinator in the lobby after we checked out. When Kris went to the desk to pay our bill, we realized that the coffee & tea that were sitting out (that we made for ourselves) (and are typically complimentary in every other hotel) were actually $7! Figures!

The drive to the Аэропорт Москва-Домодедово (Airport Moscow Domodedovo) was about 45 minutes. We got to the check-in counter only to have the lady tell us that we would have to pay since we had changed our flight! Um no! We purchased fully refundable tickets (at over $5,000 for all 3 of us!) and had confirmed the change with our travel agent 2 weeks prior, and she never mentioned anything about any extra money being needed! So we had to go to a different counter, where the lady didn't even say a word to us; she just printed out our boarding passes and sent us to yet another lady to do the check-in process. Of course one of our suitcases were over the weight limit, so we had to do a bit of rearranging. We proceeded to security, and bid good riddance to our coordinator. One of the security ladies motioned for us to go thru the business class security line, which was much shorter...guess this kid is coming in handy...special perks! We got up to the passport check window and I handed her all 3 of our passports. Since Nicky's is Russian, she asked for our "papers". Our coordinator briefly mentioned that they might ask, and that we should show our sealed manila envelope, but not to worry; they wouldn't open it. Well - we gave her the envelope & after glancing at the summary page on the outside, she tried to open it! Kris and I started yelling "no no no!" at her, while I frantically dug thru our backpack for our notebook with all the other adoption paperwork in it. I gave her the adoption decree, certificate and his new birth certificate and that seemed to appease her; we got our stamps and were on our way!

Then came the metal detector part; Nicky had a melt-down and didn't want any part of the full-body scan thing! Once we were thru, he was great! He was all about the airport and checking things out. We kept him running around and playing and he got the biggest kick out of looking at his passport! The first flight to Frankfurt was just over 3 hours. I sat next to Nicky, and Kris sat across the aisle from us. As he did on his first flight, Nicky wanted no part of sitting in his own seat...momma's is much better! The flight attendant asked if he was under 2, to which I promptly lied and said yes! (that would allow him to sit on my lap during the flight.) I wanted no part of a screaming child, and I'm sure the rest of the passengers would agree! Kris joined us after breakfast and the flight went pretty well. We kept Nicky awake and he colored and "read" books to himself...he loves to open and close them and point to things and have us tell him what they are...so smart, our boy is!

We arrived in Frankfurt and had to take a bus to the main terminal, then walk back to the same terminal from which we originally arrived...crazy system they have there! We tried to get Nicky to walk with us so he could get some exercise in & hopefully tire him out...didn't work too well! He pulled the typical 2 yr old independence thing & stopped dead in his tracks! We tried the "ok, then. bye bye!" walk away thing & he just stood there in the same spot, not giving us a second look! The score is: child 1; parents 0! So, we gave in and took him thru security again...this time much better - no melt-downs. We had a 2-ish hour layover, during which we rode the moving sidewalk countless numbers of times and played and walked as much as possible. We finally got to check-in for the flight and board the plane...first, since we have a little one...more perks! :) We got him on and he started crying...finally a bit tired! I walked him around and since we were at the back of the plane, I took him to the back door, which was open for the Sky Chefs, and we looked at the other airplanes. His eyes got droopier & droopier, so we went to sit down & he almost immediately fell asleep on my lap. The plane filled up and we started to back away from the gate, only to stop soon after. Then came the dreaded announcement; something was wrong with the plane (the front wheel steering was broken) and we would have to wait to see if it could be fixed. After about 1 1/2 hours the pilot came back on to tell us that our plane was unfixable & we would need to change planes!!! Nicky woke up as we were in the switch, and we got settled on the new plane with a rambunctious 2 yr old! By this time, we were 4 hours late leaving and Kris and I were starting to feel the effects of little sleep!
We finally took off and things seemed to go pretty well. Nicky decided he was not interested in eating, but drank water, milk and juice. He was a little cranky at times - he already had his nap, so he didn't want to sleep at all. He got fussy a few times, and would only stop screaming when I stood up...which, caused a viewing issue of Kung Fu Panda for the 89yr old man in the back! Seriously dude...would you rather listen to a screaming child?! Nicky finally calmed down and took a little nap, much to Kris & I's delight! We got to nap a bit before the food cart came around again for dinner. Nicky & I got our food before everyone else (perks of being a vegetarian & child!), and Kris helped Nicky with his fish sticks. He seemed to like them ok (I think he actually liked the ketchup part the best!), until Kris got his food and then he snubbed the rest of his tray...more for us to eat!

As soon as we finished our meals, we smelled it. That dreaded smell, emenating from our child's hiney. We looked at the tv screen and saw that we only had about 55 minutes before we were to land in Dallas, so we decided I would check him to assess the damage, then we'd go from there. We had already made the deal that I would not be changing him on the plane...those bathrooms gross me out enough as it is! Well, I leaned Nicky forward, and there it was...a puddle of poo on the seat under him! I immediately started to gag at the sight and now more powerful smell. We stood him up and looked at his back side, only to find that it was all over his shirt, under shirt and pants! I have to admit - we had a change of clothes all prepared in a ziploc bag for this type of disaster, only to forget it and pack it in our luggage!!! So - now we have a child with crap everywhere & nothing to put him in! All we could do was laugh uncontrollably and fight over who was gonna do it and how. We wrapped Nicky in a Lufthansa blanket, Kris picked him up, took a bag to put the dirty diaper, etc in (at least we remembered that part), and a new diaper & wipes and made his way to the tiny bathrooms. Of course, that was the time that they were coming down the aisle with the beverage cart, so Kris had to squeeze by them with the foulness that was his child! I frantically tried to clean up the seat and Nicky's over shirt, to no avail...there was no way that shirt would go back on him. I put a few torn magazine pages on top of the "wet spot" on the seat and covered that with another Lufthansa blanket, then watched the time on the tv screen like a hawk. 17 minutes after going in, Kris and my nekked Euro baby emerged (he at least had a diaper on)! Kris had the funniest grin on his face, while Nicky just checked out all the other passengers! When they got back, Kris sat Nicky in the covered up seat and said "after that, I'm going to need a few minutes alone!". He had to throw away Nicky's under shirt & socks, along with the Lufthansa blanket. We couldn't stop laughing as we tried to put Nicky's shoes on him, and he seemed to enjoy our giggles & joined in too! Good thing we only had about 20 minutes left before landing at this point! So, we touched down and waited for our turn to disembark, then raced to the customs/immigration area with our child wearing a wind breaker, diaper, and tennis shoes!!! And this is how our son became a US citizen! We ended up being first in line for immigration, so it didn't take too long. Once we claimed our bags, I pulled out an outfit for our sad state of affairs child and went out to meet my parents!

All in all, the trip home wasn't too bad...considering we got up at 3am Moscow time, our big flight was 4 hours delayed, we didn't get to sleep much on the plane, one of us had a massive explosion, and after all was said and done, it ended up being a 24 hour day with the time change!

9.03.2008

September 3, 2008 - American Embassy Visit in Moscow

Yeah...we are going to visit the American Embassy to apply for Nicky's visa today!!! We got up and had some breakfast, then took Nicky for a walk across a glass bridge over the Moskva River and then to a park. We figured the day before was eventful enough for all of us, so we decided to take it easy. We had lunch, then laid down for a bit before our coordinator picked us up for our appointment.

We got to the Embassy and stood in line to go thru security. All was fine and dandy until Nicky saw that articles of clothing (jackets, belts, etc) were being removed & then he had a mini melt down! I guess he was scared we were going to chunk him in the bath tub or something! He settled down once we walked thru the metal detector and thru the crowd of wannabe immigrants looking for window "4a". We then saw 2 other families ahead of us with their new adoptees, and realized that we should be at window "4", then onto window "6" - you pay at the first window, then walk two windows down to window "6"...why not just do it all at the one?! Whatever...then we went to the waiting area, which quickly filled up with other new adopting families. Apparently there used to be anywhere from 50-60 families going thru the Embassy for adoption visas each day. The day we were there there were a total of 15 of us, which was a new record. Since the Russian adoption process has gotten so much more difficult and strict, the number of families adopting has dwindled.

Anyway - we were 3rd in line so we didn't have to wait too long before we were "interviewed" by the agent. He only asked us if we were aware of his medical history and where Nicky was from...not much of an interview - we were nervous for nothing! As we waited for the visa after the interview, we looked around at all the other kids. All of them looked so different and most were at least 1yr - 3 yrs old. We quickly decided that we had the cutest kid in the bunch...but we're not biased at all! :) Nicky was awesome while we waited! He played with us, laughed, hugged on me and got tickles from daddy...all the while the other parents & kids looked on in amazement! We realized at that point how lucky we truly are to have the little guy in our lives! We picked up our visa shortly after that, then met up with our coordinator to go back to our hotel. We also received a sealed manila envelope, which contained copies of all our official adoption papers, along with Embassy specific info. We were to keep it sealed until we landed in Dallas, and were to present it to immigration.

When we got into the car, the coordinator asked us how it went & we told her it went really well. That was it - as soon as we answered, she got on her cell phone to talk to another new mom to see how their appointment had gone (there were several families that used our agency there at the same time as us). She spoke with the other lady all the way back to our hotel, then when we got there told us to be ready at 4:15am to leave for the airport...yikes! :(

We decided we were done with trying to read menus in Russian & trying to figure out what we were eating, so we headed too TGI Fridays for dinner! It was surprisingly good...and Americanized! Russian food uses a lot of black pepper, dill and cucumbers, so it was nice to get exactly what we had ordered, without it being American food with a Russian twist! Nicky decided he liked daddy's french fries better than the pasta we ordered for him...at least he drank all his milk!

We went back to the hotel and it was on like donkey kong...bath time!!! Kris climbed in with some bubbles we had bought and I brought Nicky in with one of his cars (so we could "wash" it too)...all about making it a game! He lost it when I took off his clothes, but after getting him in the tub (standing only), it went pretty well. Kris blew bubbles and had him play with them while I scrubbed him down, then we hosed him off & he was fine! He's more of a fan of the after bath (lotion time!) than he is the bath itself. He sits so still while I slather him up and clean his ears, etc, so I guess the whole process could be worse!

9.02.2008

September 2, 2008 - Touring Moscow with Nicky

We got up bright and early to get ready for the doctor's visit. Good thing - he arrived 15 minutes earlier than we thought. We had just gotten Nicky up and finished feeding him a bit when he knocked on the door. He was there maybe 10 minutes and gave him a clean bill of health from what he could see. And that was all he did - look at Nicky. He said he may have Rickets since he is a bit pigeon-toed and knock-kneed. Nothing to be concerned about thou, since we will definitely be feeding him well & giving him milk at every meal!

We hung out for a while, before our coordinator called for us to meet her at the business center. We all went down and I sat with her to complete the last bit of paperwork, while Kris & Nicky went to play in the fountain in the lobby. I wasn't too happy about being left alone with her...I understand that some people need to be baby-stepped thru the process, but I think I'm quite capable of writing my name and address in boxes that ask for those facts! One form asked for Nicky's official name, then the next box asked for the "name as it appears on the passport (if known)". Well, of course his name is "known" - it's the same on his passport as his "official" name! She instructed me to get his passport out to check it to be sure; I told her I knew for sure what the name was, but she was insistent! Then, of course, she realized I was right & instead of admitting it, just went onto the next form for completion! Did not make me happy whatsoever! When Kris came back with Nicky I couldn't even look at her she had made gotten me so frustrated! Oh well...soon after, she left and we had the rest of the day to ourselves.

We checked with the front desk to see about getting a ride to the Kremlin. It was pretty chilly, and the guide books all said that Red Square, Kremlin, etc were about 3k away (1.5 miles-ish), so driving there, and walking back sounded like a good plan. We figured they would just call us a TAKCI (taxi); instead, we were driven in a pretty, shiny, black Mercedes! No wonder it cost almost $50 one way! He dropped us off in a spot with a great starting point; we could walk directly into Red Square and then around the the entrance of the Kremlin itself. Problem was, Red Square was totally blocked off! We couldn't go in at all! :( So - we ventured around the outside and ended up going into the shopping center GUM (pronounced Goom), which faces Red Square on one side. It's the most beautiful mall I've ever seen; it was built in the 1890's and is both Russian medieval architecture with steel and glass, making it look very Victorian. The roof is all steel and glass and the floors throughout are beautiful marble. We decided to try and get something to eat since we really hadn't eaten breakfast. In typical Russian style, we went to 3 restaurants in the food court and were told "HET" (nyet = no) to everything we asked for! It was about 11am, and we could see the food set up, ready to go, yet we couldn't have any! So, we found a place that had pizza & had that for breakfast! Isn't the first time, I'm sure it won't be the last! We finally wandered around the other side of GUM and found St Basil's cathedral, which sits at the end of Red Square. We were unable to get inside since Red Square was closed, so we were pretty disappointed. We got some good pics of the outside thou, and the brightly painted "onion domes" were pretty impressive, althou, we're partial to the Church on Spilled Blood in Peter! We then found the entrance to the Kremlin grounds and purchased our tickets to go in. We decided it was getting late and we would need to get our little one back to the hotel for a nap at some point, so we had to skip the museums. Not really much to see other than a few pretty churches...that were for the most part under rehab, so we didn't get to see too much anyway!
I had read that Old Arbat street was THE street to stroll down, so that would be our route back to the hotel. Finding Old Arbat from the Kremlin was a whole other story! There is so much traffic in Moscow that in order to cross the streets, you must do it underground...easier said than done! Nothing in Russia is ever easy. We wandered a bit before we found ways to get to where we needed...kinda frustrating! Many of the underground crossings are unmarked, so unless you know where they are, you're unlikely to find them! As we strolled down Old Arbat, we ventured into several souvenir stores for some goodies...we got Nicky a "CCCP" t-shirt! Since it was around 2pm by now, we figured we should feed our kid - thank goodness he snacked on pizza earlier! Lo and behold - we stumbled upon a Starbucks! So we did the good ol' American thing and went in for some sandwiches and coffee! (almost $50 for the 3 of us!) Nicky really liked his frothy warm milk :) So much so, that he really came out of his shell on the remainder of the walk to the hotel! He was all smiles & giggles and was chatting up a storm! He started repeating words we'd say to him & was all about saying "mama", "dada", and even "Nikita"! We finally made it back to the hotel at about 3:30pm and we all laid down for a short nap, before getting up to head to dinner.
Dinner - well, I have to admit - we went to McDonald's! I don't even eat it here in the US, but given the cost of food in the city, it seemed like a good choice. We got Nicky his first happy meal - cheeseburger & fries with milk...I had to get something good into his belly! And - Nicky made a little friend named Svetia while we were there. So cute - they were making eyes at each other - she was sitting at the table next to us with her mom & a few other people. He played shy so she came over to talk to him and he got all squirmy! Just like his daddy...for those of you that don't know our "how we met" story, Kris sent one of his friends over to talk to me for him! Anyway, after dinner we wandered aimlessly around a huge mall by our hotel in search of the grocery store - had to get some provisions for breakfast & lunch for the next 2 days.

9.01.2008

September 1, 2008 - Labor Day in Mockba!

We awoke to the first sunny day in Peter since we had first arrived in mid-August...figures...the day we leave it's sunny & not too chilly! We took Nicky to take a few pictures at a few of the sights in the city center, then went back to the apartment to get our luggage, etc for our flight. Our coordinator & driver came to pick us up at 10:15am for our flight to MOCKBA (Moscow). We were pretty nervous to fly with Nicky - unsure how he would react to the plane. Our driver walked us into the airport and got us all checked in, thankfully. Our friends Paul & Courtney had told us that the airline we were flying Россия (Rossiya) had it's own check-in location and we would have to wander around the airport a bit to find it. Our driver, however, knew a sneaky back entrance that got us right to the spot we needed and helped us with all our luggage, etc.
Nicky got a little nervous when we went thru security - didn't want to walk thru the metal detector thing & wasn't too keen on being wanded afterwards! We entered the ancient 1950's era plane from the tarmac, so there were a bunch of airplanes & buses for Nicky to look at. His eyes were as big as saucers and his head was like it was on a swivel, taking it all in. We got on the plane & Kris & I's eyes were like saucers! The plane literally was from several generations gone by! I'm amazed it got off the ground! The overhead storage was almost nill & it was completely open. The seats were mostly broken - mine flew forward & got stuck when we landed...the guy behind me had to pull it off my back! Nicky did great - he sat with Kris and played with his cars most of the ride. He didn't like sitting, buckled in, in his own seat...up until then, he had been sitting on our laps in all vehicles, Britney Spears style...if CPS could only see us now!
Once we arrived in MOCKBA and got our luggage, we met our coordinator that works for our agency. She & the driver took us to our hotel - the Radisson. She was not very friendly and knew nothing about us other than she was the one to pick us up and would be helping us with some paperwork & with getting Nicky's visa at the American Embassy. I mentioned in my last email that the social worker at Nicky's orphanage had the personality of a pencil; well - this lady's wasn't much better...maybe that of a rock! She was very impatient with us getting out of the van to get checked into the hotel. She ran in as we were getting out and I stayed behind to help Kris with our 3 suitcases, 2 carry ons & sleepy 2 year old & she got kinda huffy with us! She told us the doctor would come to our room the next morning between 6:45-7:00am and then she would call us between 8-9am for some paperwork. We bid her good riddance, then got up to our room to get settled.
MOCKBA is a huge city and very overwhelming. Our friend Paul compared the sizes of the cities (Peter & Moscow) as Peter being like Austin & Moscow like Houston - he was spot on! We decided that we didn't have the energy to venture out and find a place for dinner, so we tried out Cafe Amadeus in the hotel lobby - it claims to have "international" food. I guess that was somewhat true; Kris did have pseudo-German food (cooked Russian style of course); I had Italian (pasta - nothing fancy at all); Nicky had some rice & chicken kebab (off the kid's menu). We each had one drink (coke, tea & milk) and tipped about 20% since we finally managed to get good service in Russia...that said - our total bill was just at $100! We were pretty shocked - MOCKBA is definitely more expensive than Peter. We decided that eating outside the hotel would a good plan going forward!

We attempted bath number 2...didn't go as badly as the first I'm happy to report! Still didn't want any part of it, but the crying wasn't as bad this time. It'll be much better once we get home and there are more toys for him to be distracted by I'm sure!

Heading to москва (Moscow) - September 1, 2008

So - tomorrow we're off to MOCKBA (Moscow). We leave at 12:45pm...as a mom my thought is "great - how am I gonna feed my son lunch?" Seems like an odd time to decide to travel with a child to me, but whatever - we're just along for the ride! We'll most-likely get to see the doctor tomorrow afternoon - which hopefully, he can give us some advice as to what we should give Nicky for his little cold/respiratory infection and the very ominous rash on his hind-quarters! It doesn't look like any diaper rash I've ever seen, but what do I know? We've been putting cream on it & he definitely knows what to do when we put it on, so it must be a recurring ailment. Anyway - we will go to the US Embassy on Tuesday & will finish up all the paperwork on Wednesday, then Thursday we head home! Yeah! 23 hour day with a 2 year old!!! Gee - can't wait! :( Oh well - after that we'll get to start our new lives together, so gotta keep an eye on the prize, right?! :) I'll send more pics from snapfish later...it's getting late & I'm tired of sitting at the computer. Sorry, yet again, for "talking" your ears off! Hope I haven't bored you all too much with my rambling! :)
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